NEW YORK As befits a story pairing a big celebrity with a big corporation, scores of bloggers took to their keyboards last Thursday to weigh in on — and largely inveigh against — the ad team of Microsoft and Jerry Seinfeld. After dusting off their favorite one-liners from Seinfeld’s old sitcom, many reached the same basic conclusion: that picking a TV star whose fame peaked more than a decade ago seemed like a pretty backward-looking move for a supposedly forward-looking company.
“If there’s one surefire way to convince everyone Vista is cool, cutting edge and not liable to get frazzled by life’s minor complications, it’s hiring a 1990s sitcom star and professional kvetcher!” Gawker observed sarcastically. “Who, um, very visibly owned a series of Macs on his show.”
Added Pulse of Hollywood: “Microsoft doesn’t like being ‘cast as a stodgy oldster’ by Apple’s advertising and has turned to Jerry Seinfeld. Oh, so they want to be cast as late-middle-age almost stodgy oldster.”
The Maelstrom blog concluded: “It just doesn’t make sense to try and get college students to want your product [by] using a comedian that their parents love. It is just like Microsoft to attempt to copy Mac in everything they do, but instead they make a pile of steaming trash.”
Most damning, perhaps, as Gawker points out, is the fact that Seinfeld used to be a high-profile Mac user. Apple and TBWA\Chiat\Day even created a special version of their iconic “Crazy Ones” spot for the sitcom’s series finale in 1998, showing Seinfeld himself at the end.
Still, that was a decade ago — and as Microsoft might point out, Apple has always emphasized in its own ads that switching one’s personal-computer allegiances is understandable, even encouraged.
In terms of volume, the Seinfeld news did not represent a significant spike in online buzz for Microsoft, which tends to get mentioned in thousands of blog posts every day. But many of the biggest blogs covered it — Engadget, TechCrunch, Boing Boing, etc. — and the overwhelmingly negative initial response won’t be encouraging in Redmond, Wash.
For Seinfeld fans, though, it was relatively big news. According to data from Nielsen’s BuzzMetrics unit, the comedian has enjoyed more blogger attention on only three other days this year: Jan. 8, when he and his wife were sued by a cookbook author; April 3, when he flipped his 1967 Fiat in East Hampton (he was unhurt); and June 24, when he eulogized George Carlin with a piece in The New York Times. Those three dates were hardly occasions for celebration. Microsoft surely hopes this time will be different.